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FL Reacts to Plans on Mental Health, Guns

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden released ambitious proposals to curb gun violence at a news conference on Wednesday. (See video.)  The plan came in response to last month’s elementary-school massacre in Newtown, CT.

Gov. Rick Scott, who said Wednesday that the Legislature should “look at” Florida’s gun laws because “I want people to feel safe in our state,” walked that back a pace on Thursday.

“Gov. Scott supports the second amendment,” said an e-mail from Press Secretary Jackie Schutz. “He will listen to ideas about improving school safety during the legislative session, but he continues to support the second amendment and is not proposing any gun law changes.”

Scott's clarification may reflect the fury among firearms dealers and some gun owners that met President Barack Obama's proposals for curbing gun violence.  But there was a more positive reaction to a plan to improve identification of those who may be on the verge of violence and their access to treatment.

‘Mental Health First Aid’

Saying that the most serious types of mental illness tend to surface in adolescence, the president urged Congress to provide funds to train teachers, social workers and mental-health professionals on how to spot children and young adults who may become violent.

The Obama administration said it will also enforce an existing law that requires insurers – including Medicaid – to cover mental health benefits to the same extent they cover treatment of physical ailments.

More details on the  mental health proposals are at Modern Healthcare.  Florida mental-health professionals praised them in an article by Fort Myers News-Press.

In an article by Kaiser Health News,the executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness calls the plan "a game-changer."

‘Epidemic of Gun Violence’

Obama cited an “epidemic of gun violence in this country” in calling for:

--a ban on new sales of military-style assault weapons.

--a ban on sales of ammunition magazines holding more than 10 bullets.

--universal background checks for all gun buyers.

--penalties on those who provide  firearms to criminals.

AsThe Washington Postreported, the measures barring sale of certain weapons and ammo clips face the rockiest path in Congress.

Media around Florida, including Tampa Bay Times, reported that gun dealers predict the measures won't work, even if they pass.

Carol Gentry, founder and special correspondent of Health News Florida, has four decades of experience covering health finance and policy, with an emphasis on consumer education and protection.